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Tips for Gardening in Alberta

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Gardening in Alberta definitely has its challenges. Not only do we have frigid cold temperatures, but for those of us gardening in southern Alberta, we get chinook winds which can be especially hard on perennials.

Alberta gardeners know that it is possible to get snow on any given month of the year. Challenges include a short window of frost free growing days, cool garden soil, high winds, and deer (among other garden pests). Our short Alberta growing season tends to cause us to pack all the gardening we can into those few frost free months. But hey, at least we get a long period of rest through the winter.

Girl gardening in Alberta in a raised bed zone 3 garden in Calgary Alberta, growing cabbage under cover in her vegetable garden.

Although it is more challenging to grow food for your family in your Alberta garden than in many warmer climates, it is far from impossible. With some knowledge and planning you can produce a bountiful Alberta garden. Did you know there are some plants (like spinach) that prefer cool soil and cool weather?

One benefit of being an Alberta gardener is that we have fewer pests and diseases than many warmer climates. I mean, ginormous spiders and scorpions, or short a short growing season? Maybe the short growing season isn't so bad after all...

Alberta Growing Zones

Alberta growing zones range from zone 1 to zone 5. Make sure to figure out exactly what growing zone you are in, and to always buy perennials suitable for that zone or lower.

Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables that Grow well in Alberta Gardens

Lets take a look at some of the crops that grow well in Alberta. To find more details about growing individual plants you can click the underlined ones.

Alberta garden with a deer fence around the garden for someone gardening in Alberta in a zone 3 garden.

Best Fruit to Grow in Alberta

This list is not all inclusive, but includes the fruit I have grown with the most success.

Find more information on the best fruit to grow in Alberta along with specific fruit variety recommendations here.

Best Herbs to Grow in Alberta

  • basil - annual

  • cilantro - annual (self seeds)

  • dill - annual (self seeds)

  • thyme - annual

  • garlic - annual

  • onions and chives/scallions - annual/perennial

  • horseradish - perennial

  • fennel - annual

  • lovage - perennial

  • oregano - annual

  • mint - perennial (can be invasive)

  • sage - annual/perennial

Best Vegetables to Grow in Alberta

Vegetables grown by gardening in Alberta in a zone 3 vegetable garden near Calgary Alberta.

If you are in gardening zones 4 or 5, have a greenhouse, poly tunnel, cold frame, or a warm spot on your deck, these heat loving plants can also be grown in Alberta

Best Flowers to Grow in Alberta Gardens

Although there are many flowers that grow well in Alberta, I won't cover them all today. For information on flowers that grow well in zone 3 you can check out this seasonal bloom guide from Alberta Garden Girl or these 57 Perennial Plants from Shifting Roots.

Soil Amendments for Alberta Gardeners

Much of the soil and water in Alberta tends to be alkaline. Most plants and almost all vegetables prefer slightly acidic soil. Compost and peat moss are both great options to add to your Alberta garden soil. Compost not only helps to lower the soil pH, but also aids to build up nutritious soil for best plant growth.

As well as lowering soil pH, adding peat moss helps loosen up the hard clay soil most often found in Alberta gardens as well as retaining moisture.

When to Plant in Alberta

The last frost date for those of us gardening in Alberta has such a wide range, so this list of when to plant what outdoors varies slightly from northern Alberta to southern Alberta but can be used as a guideline for when to plant your Alberta garden.

As well, I have a printable When to Start Seeds Indoors in Alberta available.

Girl gardening in Alberta in a raised bed in a zone 3 backyard vegetable garden near Calgary Alberta Canada.

I hope that these tips have encouraged you to go ahead and start planning your Alberta garden and I wish you all the best in your endeavour. May you fall in love with gardening and growing food for your family just as I have.

If you have found this article helpful and would like to see more gardening tips and tricks, subscribe to my blog (the bottom of the home page) and follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and/or YouTube!

Pinterest pin for gardening in Alberta with an Alberta vegetable garden shown in the bottom.


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